How much money do the big, holding company-owned PR agencies make? It’s a question many in the industry want to know, however the firms don’t report their revenues, citing Sarbanes Oxley and company policies.
David Brain, President & CEO Edelman Europe, has taken matters into his own hands, and posted the following revenue breakdowns on this blog:
° Weber Shandwick-$460 million-down 7%
° Edelman-$448 million-down 2% from $456 million
° Fleishman Hillard-$425 million-down 15%
° Burson Marstellar-$325 million-down 7%
° Publicis-MSL-$300 million-down 15%
° Ketchum Pleon-$300 million-down 7%
° Ogilvy-$225 million-down 9%
° Hill & Knowlton-$200 million-down 8%
° Porter Novelli (down 25%) and Golin Harris (flat)-$125 million
° Cohn & Wolfe/GCI-$120 million-down 7%
How did he come up with these figures? “Our sources for the table include bar room tittle tattle, holding company financial reports, analyst reports, client comments and the insights of employees we have hired from our competitors,” he wrote.
Take that as you will. We reached out to firms on Brain’s list, to get their take on how accurate these numbers are.
An Ogilvy PR spokesperson told PRNewser, “We are not permitted to disclose any financials as everything is officially reported from our parent company. As an Ogilvy rep I can tell you that the number cited for us is not accurate.”
A Porter Novelli spokesperson said, “In adherence to Omnicom policy, we do not disclose agency-wide consolidated financial information to any entity.”
David Gallagher, Senior partner and president, Ketchum Pleon, told PRNewser, “Estimated revenue is a poor proxy for quality,” while adding, “For clients where reach is important, the publicly held agencies can show considerable scalability. Our own partnership with a sister PR network gives one global client access to an $800 million consortium, and for the growing number of clients requiring integrated marketing communications services we can offer coordinated solutions from Omnicom partners showing billion-dollar revenue figures.”
Other firms declined to comment or have not responded to PRNewser as of the time of this post.
Certainly, as an independent firm, Edelman can take more liberties in posting these kinds of figures. If an executive at a holding company agency posted something like this, it could be a fire-able offense.
So why did Brain post the numbers?
“As usual we are happy to be corrected but make no apology to any firm whose numbers we have wrong as we believe that an industry that preaches transparency cannot keep secret its own financial numbers,” he said in his post.
Also, a few sources suggested to PRNewser something along the lines of Edelman must feel short-shifted by being only compared to independent firms — on the O’Dwyer’s rankings, for example. “It’s like getting rated, but with an asterisk next to the agency,” said one source.